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Politicians may rate lower than used car salesmen in most polls, but it seems they are not all created equal.
A Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll reveals that Prime Minister John Key is by far our most liked and trusted politician, with 59.3 per cent of people liking him, and 58.7 per cent also trusting him.
Key is also well ahead of his opponents as preferred prime minister on 51.2 per cent.
Labour leader David Cunliffe appears to be more polarising, with those who like and trust him, and those who don't, falling into roughly equal camps. His rating as preferred prime minister is just 18.2 per cent.
The bad news for Cunliffe is that only Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Kim Dotcom are more disliked. Harawira and Dotcom are also the least trusted.
Brian Edwards, veteran commentator and media trainer to former Labour leader Helen Clark and others, said for a political leader to be truly successful, they needed the public to both like and trust them - but being likeable may provide the biggest advantage.
"John Key is widely liked and I think this is a problem for anyone that wants to oppose him because that liking is the sort of liking people have for a mate or friend or someone they know.
"Key has got this easygoing pleasant demeanour, he doesn't seem to take things all that seriously and kids around a bit, which gives him a very accessible personality. He enjoys this tremendous liking among the public, which is very difficult for his opponents to deal with."
Even when people considered him to be dodgy on issues such as the SkyCity deal, or electorate accommodations in seats like Epsom, that was outweighed by the fact they liked him.
"With David Cunliffe he probably does not come across as such an easygoing, warm sort of character . . . he's not hated, but I don't think he enjoys that popular appeal John Key has."
That was not fatal to Cunliffe's chances of becoming prime minister, but it would make his job harder, especially with a "feel good" factor around the economy - "for some people at least". "It's going to be extremely difficult for Labour to win this election."
The poll also asks voters which of the two parties, National or Labour, is best for young families, best for growing the economy and best for closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. Labour trumped National as best for families, at 54.4 per cent to 34.4 per cent with 11.3 per cent undecided.
It was also streets ahead of National at closing the gaps, at 56.1 per cent to 29 per cent, and 14.9 per cent undecided. But National was seen as the safest pair of hands with the economy, at 63 per cent to Labour's 27.7 per cent.
Former Labour Party president Mike Williams said he found the result inexplicable.
"There are two things in my life which I absolutely cannot understand. One is what happened to the crew of the Marie Celeste and the other is why people think National manages the economy better than Labour. The evidence is entirely the reverse. Have people forgotten Rob Muldoon?"
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- The Dominion Post
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